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BRUCE BOYER: HOW A LITIGIOUS CONSPIRACY THEORIST SPENT DECADES BRUTE-FORCING HIS WAY INTO SOCAL POLITICS

by SEAN BECKNER-CARMITCHEL

EDITOR'S NOTE : Sean Beckner-Carmitchel is an independent videographer, stringer, journalist and CPRA enthusiast local to the Los Angeles area. You can see his work at @ACatWithNews on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His CashApp is $ACatWithNews.

Public comment at city council meetings throughout Ventura County often feature a man with a cowboy hat who introduces himself with “good evening! My name is Bruce Boyer. I’m candidate for Sheriff here in Ventura County…” Boyer, often dressed with a Gadsden flag t-shirt underneath a black blazer and a black Stetson, mouths off about “defeating the sanctuary state rebellion” to conspiracy theories regarding a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. Some might think his views are fringe and inconsequential, but for over a decade Boyer has tried and sometimes succeeded in influenced laws at the municipal and even state level. He’s even tried to change who can run for Sheriff in California and nearly delayed an election. In an era of right wing revolt against local, state and national government, Boyer’s tactics are becoming more common and are worth studying.

In November 2018, a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks left 12 dead. Boyer quickly began weaving conspiracy theories about it. According to a Thousand Oaks Acorn reporter, Boyer handed out flyers to family members of the victims. Video later shows him handing out the literature while chastising an officer for supposedly violating his free speech rights. Later that day, Boyer set signs around the memorial to the victims. He was arrested to cheers after taking the stage with a bullhorn. Fellow conspiracy theorist Paul Huebl (who got some press for claiming Whitney Houston’s death was not accidental) filmed him. One year later, Boyer’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against Ventura County alleging that detaining and citing him at the event violated his free speech rights. He was not invited to speak at the memorial. Boyer continued to try to gain traction for his conspiracy theories about the shooting at City Council meetings, even uploading them later to his YouTube channel and adding fake applause. If you don’t believe us, here’s the original. Go to the 12:35 timestamp.

So what is the conspiracy theory? Boyer operates at least a couple of websites with a section devoted to his press release claiming there were “cowardly” off-duty cops at the scene of the shooting who ran from it—and accusing the Ventura County Sheriffs of covering for those officers. While there were several off-duty cops at the bar during the shooting, there is no evidence of any of them being armed, and in fact some witnesses state officers shielded other patrons during the chaotic scene.

In 2011, the L.A. Daily News called Boyer “the face of the mobile billboard industry in Los Angeles.” He operated 30 or more mobile billboards in the area. Boyer disrupted an L.A. city councilman’s press conference about legislation against mobile billboards by positioning himself next to podiums and yelling. The Daily News likened it to a “a Wild West-style standoff,” with police failing to coax Boyer off the impromptu stage. He wasn’t charged for the disruption.

Boyer has found himself in court a notable amount for a private citizen. Court records obtained by LCRW show Bruce Boyer has been involved in at least 3 criminal cases in Ventura County for Unlawful Disposal, Unlicensed Driving with mixed pleas and mixed results. In Los Angeles County, Boyer’s been involved in 8 different criminal cases with various pleas and results. He’s involved in a multitude of civil suits as well. In 2015, he was found guilty of possession of a firearm after a protection order prohibiting him from having guns was issued against him. In 2012, he went to court for a legal separation from his spouse. In 2006, there was a domestic violence prevention order against him. He was found guilty of violating an L.A. city ordinance against unauthorized signage in 2011, and in 2003 he was convicted for a slew of similar city ordinance violations, so his battle with local governments over signs and protests has gone on almost two decades.

Boyer later argued with mixed success in federal court for protecting mobile billboards on public property in Simi Valley, then afterwards Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, Rancho Cucamonga and Loma Linda in 2012. Eventually, Boyer’s lawsuit in Simi Valley reached the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals and the 2020 ruling upheld the constitutional right to park mobile billboards on public property.

In 2012, operating as the “chief instigator” of an organization called “Sons of Liberty L.A.,” Boyer began setting up outside gun buyback events and advertising to those driving nearby that they could “Get $$ for your gun. We buy your gun to donate it to a woman in danger.” When asked by a reporter, Boyer later stated “Sons of Liberty L.A. doesn’t buy guns itself, but refers people to licensed shops in Glendale and Simi Valley.” At another event along with the Sons of Liberty L.A., Boyer was arrested for trespassing while protesting the gun buyback program. In an article describing a failed injunction against the gun buybacks, Boyer claims he had reached out to the city and the group was refused permission to attend the events. It’s currently unclear to LCRW how many members the Sons Of Liberty Los Angeles had at its peak.

According to court documents, an LAPD Officer came upon Boyer in September of 2003 “holding a rifle pointed at a female who was down on her knees.” Boyer told the officer that he was making a citizen’s arrest for vandalism because the victim supposedly removed advertising fliers from a sign for Boyer’s security company. Boyer was charged with misdemeanor assault with a firearm, exhibition of a firearm, carrying a loaded weapon and false imprisonment. The matter was later consolidated with previous charges of violence against a former spouse. The criminal complaint was further amended to add a charge of disturbing the peace. After pleading no contest to the disturbing the peace charge, all of the other charges were removed. Boyer received summary probation of 24 months as a result of the plea.

In addition to summary probation, the California Bureau of Security and Investigation Services put a three year suspension on Boyer’s license to manage his company, Lone Star Security & Video. While suspending his license, the Bureau wrote that Boyer “used deadly force to protect a sign from vandalism. This reveals an ignorance of the law necessary for a person who is licensed to protect the property and person of California citizens, and it evinces a serious lack of judgment on [Boyer’s] part.”

In Boyer’s response in the court documents, he echoed the same kind of tropes right wingers would weave five or so years later about “ANTIFA” in his conspiracy-theory-fueled accusations against his victim. Boyer claimed the woman he had falsely imprisoned was “an active sympathizer and supporter of violent environmental terrorist causes, such as the activities of the Earth Liberation Front, and that she had posted in online ‘chat’ sights [sic] statements effectively acknowledging that she had actively deceived LAPD officers in order to obtain Boyer’s arrest.” The suspension from the Bureau of Security and Investigation Services was challenged in California court, and upheld—twice.

In 2016, Boyer made a Brown Act complaint after not being allowed to comment on a water standby charge issue in Simi Valley alleging to the Citizens’ Journal that “it is very confusing in Simi, because they don’t indicate which items are open to public comment.” Though the city did not acknowledge a Brown Act violation (and reminded Boyer that speakers must limit their comments during a particular hearing to the particular item being discussed, they did opt to re-vote on the water standby charge.

In 2018, Boyer began claiming he was running for Sheriff of Ventura County. His press release called California’s sanctuary state policy a “rebellion,” and vowing to “defeat the rebels.” He was denied an appearance on the ballot due to not having previous law enforcement experience. He then unsuccessfully sued the County and several County officials and took Boyer v. Cnty. of Ventura to the Second District Court of Appeal. Boyer later even attempted to delay the election in court via “writ of superseades,” which would have blocked the lower court’s decision to remove Boyer from the ballot until the Appeals court made their findings. He was unsuccessful. In a decision March 2019, the courts again upheld that Boyer couldn’t appear on the ballot. The court also upheld previous legislation that all elected Sheriffs in California would require law enforcement experience to appear on the ballot in the future.

Boyer once again declared his candidacy for Sheriff in Ventura County in mid-July last year. It’s unclear to LCRW how and if he seriously plans to appear on the next ballot in July of this year.

On his campaign page, he offers to receive anonymous donations and even goes as far as to promise that he will not file any campaign finance disclosures, which are required by law. His website states “To protect all citizens Right to privacy as our State Constitution recognizes; I will not file any campaign finance disclosures. I welcome supporters who request anonymity. Our voting is in secret and we have the right to support publicly or in secret.” Other campaign promises include doing the job for as little as $1 per year and promising “Citizens who wish to serve will be deputized as full Law Enforcement Officers.” Boyer still devotes a significant amount of space on his campaign site to his Borderline Bar & Grill shooting conspiracy theories. Though Boyer is running for Sheriff in Ventura, his address is listed numerous times in lawsuits and contact information as being in Los Angeles County.

Boyer is, predictably, on the COVID denialism game. As a campaign stunt, he tried and failed to get arrested for sitting in a beach chair at Hollywood Beach to protest COVID restrictions. Alarmingly, the Ventura County Citizens’ Journal let him write an article about it.

As a part of his “candidacy,” Boyer recently was a featured speaker on a poorly-attended “Ashli Babbitt Day,” rally in Beverly Hills on the first anniversary of the Capitol riot in D.C. At the event, he spoke alongside Capitol rioters and others who have menaced journalists including LCRW’s reporters, counter-protesters and bystanders at events around Los Angeles during the last five years. Boyer took the opportunity to state that the poor attendance was due to the crowd being “extorted,” by nearby parking fees.

LCRW made several attempts to contact Bruce Boyer for this article. He did not respond.

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